Need-to-Know Questions Answered

Here’s you find the answers to important questions about answers about renting in NYC.

What do I need to rent an apartment?

(Paperwork and Monies you need before you start your search) Listed below are all the documents and monies you should have together before your search. Please note that for the money you will need these funds upfront and readily accessible in certified funds. MEANING: You can’t write over a check. You will have to go to your bank and get a certified check or you will have to wire the money directly into the account in order to take the apartment off the market.

Common situation: You have all of your paperwork together but you have to wait 2 days for your dad to send you a certified check for the first months rent and security deposit. BAM… another person comes in the next day before your check arrives and they take it off the market. I can’t say it enough, have your money accessible the day you start searching. If you bring the check to the management company/landlord before you get your paperwork together they will wait for the paperwork to come in, but will not wait for your money!


Disclaimer- Every management company/landlord will want different paperwork but these are a rule of thumb things to have. Could be more could be less Guarantor Paperwork –

If you need a guarantor, they will need to have the following: the management company will be far more strict with your guarantors paperwork then yours since they are responsible for you paying.

  1. Tax Return: usually only the first two pages from last year, or the last two years)
  2. Employment Letter: stating length of employment and annual salary (or a CPA letter if you own your own company)
  3. Pay stubs: typically 1-2
  4. Bank Statements: (typically 1-2)
  5. Photo of Picture ID: clear, front and back
  6. Your Paperwork: with or without a guarantor; read #20 to see if you need a guarantor

Your Paperwork: with or without a guarantor

  1. Tax Return usually only the first two pages from last year
  2. Employment Letter: stating length of employment and annual salary- If you are a new hire/student, your guarantor info will cover this
  3. Pay Stubs: (typically 1-2) – If you are a new hire/student, your guarantors info will cover this
  4. Bank Statement: (typically 2)
  5. Recommendation from your last landlord: (not common, most will take your landlord’s phone number and check that way)
  6. Clear photo copy of your license or student ID
  7. If you are a recent graduate they might want proof – a copy of your student ID or an unofficial transcript. (This isn’t common, but could make your approval process go faster)


  1. Application: condo/co-op/management company will give you the one they want you to fill out when it is ready, you can’t have this pre-search!
  2. Credit Check: this is usually on the management company’s application (cost $30- 150.00 depending on the company). If you are renting in a CO-OP or CONDO they will want all of the above information and then some. Rents are typically cheaper in these situations because you have to go through such an arduous process.
  3. You will need at least the first months rent, one months rent security deposit and your broker fee (in case you end up needing one) ready to go in your bank account. So for your $2000.00 studio you will need: 1 months rent – $2000, 1 month security deposit- $ 2000 (if you use one), Brokers fee (15% of annual years rent) – $3600

TOTAL: $4000 (without broker) $7600.00 (with broker)

***Sometimes management companies might want one-month rent, one-month security AND last month’s rent. So if you want to err on the side of caution add one more month rent for a total of: $6000 (without broker) $9600 (with broker) Unbelievable right! How are you supposed to come up with $6,000-10,000 on your own before you come to the city? There is no easy answer. As I mentioned earlier if you had a roommate sharing the costs of the broker and therefore also a lower rent you would have to come up with a lot less. The reality is, living in Manhattan or a popular area outside Manhattan will be costly.

Why you should know your credit score before you start looking!

(If you end up having bad credit, that is)

Credit history is a big, big, big, big, big, big, big deal to rent in this city.

If you have BAD credit and do not have a qualified guarantor you are in for a great deal of barriers in trying to rent an apartment.

Checking your credit months in advance of moving to New York City is important to see if there are any errors or claims. If you see an error on your credit report, call the credit bureau and get it expunged before you ever come to the city. This will make your life much easier. It might not be your fault; credit card companies make mistakes all the time.

Here are the bad credit history scenarios played out and what you can do about it:

If you have bad credit and don’t qualify on your own BUT you have an excellent in-state guarantor who meets the income requirements

If this is the case, a good amount of management companies will rent to you because your guarantor is the one who is legally responsible for you paying. They still might want an extra month, or months rent upfront to cover their own behind. If they don’t want to rent to you, see the next answer.

If you have bad credit BUT you do qualify financially to rent an apartment on your own there are management companies who are much more lenient.

Companies that I know are more lenient are:

  1. Jackobson Properties
  2. Croman Realty
  3. PAN AM (the best apartments out of the bunch who will take bad credit, BUT you do have to work with a broker to have access to them)

These are just a few examples, ask your broker for others. TELL your broker about your credit issues so they can help you.

If you have bad credit and you do not have a guarantor and you do not qualify on your own, NOT ALL HOPE IS LOST!

Look for a roommate who all ready has an established lease, they are less picky they will doubtfully run a credit check on you and if they do they will like you and your winning personality enough to just either let it slide or pay an extra months up front. Then you just move right in on a sublease agreement.

If you have the money, put 6 months or a year up front. However, the management company can still reject this.

Find anyone who will be your guarantor. It doesn’t have to be a close family member, though most management companies prefer it. Some management companies will take a family friend, or distant relative if they are in-state.

Halstead does a wonderful job of explaining the different types of leases are and what that means for you.

Most of the landlords you’ll encounter use the Lease Agreement (Blumberg Form A55). It is easy clear and covers what is necessary for both landlord and tenant. If you or the landlord feel there should be additions made it is ok to write these in a separate document called a “rider” to the lease.


The questions you submit directly to us will be answered below

“How far in advance can you look for an apartment? How far in advance can I sign a lease?”

“Specifically, 3 of us want to move into a 3 bedroom in August but we need to secure it by April, is this possible? What is the best way to go about doing so?”

You can look for an apartment as early as you want and sign a lease to that available apartment as early as you want. BUT (you knew there was going to be one) landlords tend to release their listings between 1-8 weeks before the move in date. This is for several reasons. Most people don’t let their landlords know they are moving out until they are sure they have a new place secured or they are also making a last minute decision. This means landlords can’t release listings until they know they are going to be 100% vacant. Some tenants let their landlords know months in advance, as I am sure you are aware that doesn’t happen to often, but it happens sometimes. This means if you are looking to rent an apartment in August there will be a very small selection of apartments available for August 1 move in released in April. If it is very important that you are secured in April…probably because you are going home for the summer here is what you can do. THINGS TO DO NOW

  • First, starting today look at’s list of No-Fee websites. Check every single one for listings. (these listings should have move-in dates next to them) Do this at least once a week, don’t be shy checking every few days. Apartments, particularly three-bedrooms go quickly because they are in higher demand due to lack of inventory. If you see one pop up call the management company or email them to set up an appt quickly. What you can be doing right now is getting all of your paperwork together. I assume you have guarantors and three students so that is a lot of stuff to get together. (look at my other questions to get this info) If something comes on the market and it is great than the first group of people who have all their stuff together- wins!
  • Second, call brokers. They will have access to listings that you do not have. Be in touch with two different brokers from two different companies. Don’t be in touch with more than that because it will stress you out and really most companies do have access to similar inventory. Tell them your situation and exactly what you are looking for. They work for you and they will call you as soon as they have something that comes up that matches your move in dates and descriptions.
  • Third- Make sure you and your roommates are on the same page with what you want. I had many 3 bedroom people looking together and then they each liked and disliked different properites. This will cost you time and you can lose out. Start checking out apartments now together, even if it is for an April 1 move in so all of that can be squared away now. Obviously you can’t take those apartments but then when you really start looking you know what all of you will want. This is the best piece of advice from me to you…trust me on this.
  • Fourth- Look at July 1 move-ins as well. I know this isn’t ideal because you would have to pay an extra months rent but sometimes move-in dates are negotiable. So if it is a July 1 move in and the landlord likes you and you have all your monies and everything together for him than you can try to negotiate a July 15th move in. This means you end paying only 2 extra weeks of rent and dividing that three ways since you are in a 3 bedroom is not terrible. Really you are paying for peace of mind. I did have one client negotiate the move in -If nothing comes up between the mgmt companies and your brokers- not all hope is lost. You schedule a trip back to the city at the end of June or first week of July. Come back to the city for 3 days. I suggest coming in on a Tuesday. New listings are released on Mondays and take a day or two to get into the system at brokerages. From home speak with two different brokers and tell them exactly what you want to look at and that you do not have time to be swayed in different directions. Schedule two appointments with them BUT first look at all the NO-FEE websites that are available on Check through all of their listings daily to see what comes available and schedule appointments with them first and then go meet with the brokers. Do not be nervous to wait till June for an August 1 move in. If you lived in the city year round and wanted an August 1 move in, I would tell you to not bother looking until end of June anyway. That is when all the tenants have to let their landlords know that they are moving out. (Sometimes tenants don’t even let their landlords know until a week before)

“I’m planning to fly up to the city from Miami in order to find an apartment. How long should I plan to stay?”

If you are coming in to the city for a brief amount of time I suggest coming for at least three business days of the work week. Weekends are tough, access is limited, all of the mgmt companies are closed so you aren’t positive of status. It could have all ready been gone because someone submitted an application on Friday.

If you have to come on a weekend make sure you are here through that Wednesday.

Set up appointments with two brokers from two different companies on one day. If both come up short and don’t have anything that you like you can quickly make a new appointment or check out new listings that evening for the next day. Be sure to set up appts for yourself from all the no-fee websites we have in our MGMT company page. Lease signings and getting monies together can take 2 business days.

MAKE sure you have all of your paperwork, your guarantors paperwork (if necessary) and all of your monies accessible in a bank that is here in NYC.

Additional FAQ Topics: